What Jonathan told PDP members who wanted me sacked — Mike Igini

Mr Igini said he drew the ire of PDP in Cross River State by standing against the illegal substitution of candidates that emerged from the party’s primary election in the state in 2011.

A former Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mike Igini, on Thursday, revealed how members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pressured former President Goodluck Jonathan to sack him.

The former REC in Akwa Ibom State spoke as the lead presenter at an anti-corruption event organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), on Thursday, in Abuja.

Mr Igini said he drew the ire of PDP in Cross River State by standing against the illegal substitution of candidates that emerged from the party’s primary election in the state in 2011.

“When President Jonathan was asked by PDP members in Cross River State to sack me in 2011 for refusing to illegally substitute the names of candidates in their primary elections, President Jonathan told the PDP members point-blank that I was not appointed by him, but by members of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs),” he said.

Commending Mr Jonathan’s courage for resisting the ploy, Mr Igini noted that the former president said “I (Mr Igini) was nominated into INEC by CSOs, and there was nothing anyone could do to remove me.”

Speaking on the innovative provisions of the new Electoral Act, Mr Igini said “power has been returned to the Nigerian electorate.”

He said politicians were in a “panic mood following the introduction of electronic technology- Biometric Voter Accreditation System (BVAS),” making manipulation of election results “impossible.”

In a veiled reference to former Governor of Akwa Ibom State and former Minster of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, who sought to pick a senatorial ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) without participating in the party’s primary election, Mr Igini said there plots to abort his decade long stay at INEC.

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“But President Muhammadu Buhari like (Mr) Jonathan, asked APC members who wanted me out to do the right thing,” the former REC said.

He urged the electorate to keep vigil over their votes during the 2023 general elections and ensure compliance with the electoral law.

‘Vote-buying must be discouraged’

In his welcome remarks, Olanrewaju Suraj, Chairman, HEDA Resource Centre, said fixing Nigeria’s electoral challenges would address the country’s development problems.

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He said “vote-buying is unacceptable,” asking Nigerians to resist the temptation in next year’s polls.

Mr Suraj said the event was organised to brainstorm on ways of ensuring the integrity of the 2023 elections.

Tony Ojukwu, the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), asked Nigerians to demand candidates’ plans concerning protection of human rights in Nigeria.

Similarly, the founder of Connected Development, Hamza Lawal, urged the CSOs and INEC to track campaign funds.

He said “electoral integrity can be achieved through monitoring of campaign spending, to ensure compliance.”

N200 billion traced to govt accounts during 2019 elections

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) https://www.nfiu.gov.ng/ has revealed that N2 billion slush funds were traced to government bank accounts during the 2019 polls.

In a goodwill message at the event on Thursday, a director at the NFIU, Abubakar Badaru, showed the nexus between money and elections in Nigeria.

“To show you the correlation between cash and elections, in 2019, we found N200 billion official transactions from government accounts,” Mr Badaru disclosed.

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He noted the link between electoral crime and money, urging Nigerians to ensure implementation of the Electoral Act during next year’s election.

In July 2021, PREMIUM TIMES reported that the NFIU said it was facing “illegal” pressure from politicians and senior government officials making dishonest requests for information.

NFIU speaks on illegal pressure from politicians, senior govt officials

The NFIU is the central national agency responsible for the receipt of disclosures from reporting organisations, the analysis of these disclosures and the production of intelligence for dissemination to competent authorities.

An autonomous unit domiciled within the Central Bank of Nigeria, the unit is also the central coordinating body for the country’s Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Terrorist Financing and Counter-Proliferation Financing (AML/CFT/CPF) framework.

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